Engineering

The course

Most of the formal teaching in Engineering takes place in the Engineering Department, which is only five minutes’ walk from the College. In the first two years almost all the time between 9am and 1pm, Mondays to Fridays, is occupied by the time-tabled activities, mostly lectures and laboratory sessions.

The College arranges supervisions to support each lecture course taken by a student, at a rate of approximately one supervision for every two weeks of lectures. Each student typically has three supervisions per week in the first two years, rather less in the third and fourth year.

The College has eight Fellows whose subject is Engineering, and one Fellow where their subject is specifically Chemical Engineering. With about sixty Engineering students at Pembroke, and with the growing diversity and specialisation of subjects taught in the course, it is not possible for students to be supervised only by Fellows of the College. A considerable proportion of the supervisions are given by  post-doctoral researchers or research students. (In this respect, Pembroke is similar to most other colleges). Students usually attend supervisions in pairs, or threes, and the supervisions usually take place in the afternoons or early evenings.

Students who embark on the Engineering course have the option, in the second year of entering the Chemical Engineering Tripos, for three years or in the third and fourth years, of pursuing many options, including the Management Studies Tripos or the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos.

For further details of the course, prospective applicants should see the Engineering Department’s Undergraduate Admissions website.

Admissions

We admit about 16 engineers each year. The course is tough, and we would expect those applying to have a very strong background in physics and mathematics. Our conditional offers normally require Mathematics and Physics and one other relevant A-level (equivalent). Further Mathematics A-level is highly desirable. It is also important that candidates study Mechanics as one, or preferably two of their modules. Engineers with Further Maths as a fourth A-level will also be asked for a grade in this subject. We do not require STEP. For those sitting the IB, we treat Higher Level subjects as equivalent to A-level and Standard Level subjects as equivalent to AS Level. For information about other qualifications, please email us for a separate sheet.

Admissions for Chemical Engineering

Those wishing to take Chemical Engineering in the second and subsequent years should make this clear on the application form. Chemistry A-level (or equivalent) is essential for this course.

Interviews and Assessment

We ask all Engineering candidates who are called to Cambridge for interview to take a 30 minute interview preparation test which includes maths and physics questions. We are looking for students who are highly motivated and enthusiastic about engineering and have the academic ability to learn very fast in a demanding course. We interview all applicants who stand a realistic chance of a place. You will be interviewed by two or three Engineers. One of the interviews will focus on your answers to the questions in the test, and the other will discuss with you, in an informal way, some scientific and mathematical problems that you may not have thought about before and relate to engineering. You may be asked about other academic interests, and what you have learned about outside your A-level (or equivalent) courses.

Three or four years?

Most of our engineers choose to take the four-year MEng degree option. It is possible to complete the course in three years with a BA Engineering degree, and the Department does set an academic hurdle at the end of the second year, which prevents a few students from remaining for the fourth year. However, all candidates for Engineering should apply to the Student Finance Company for four-year funding in the first instance. It may be difficult to obtain an extension once the course has started.

Gap year

About a quarter our engineering students take a gap year. Many who choose to do so obtain sponsorship and work for their sponsors or find experience through the Year in Industry scheme.  We would particularly encourage those who are very young (i.e. those who may be under eighteen if they come directly from school to Pembroke) to defer for a year, and very few regret doing so.

Links with other Universities

The Cambridge Engineering Department has established links with MIT in Boston and the Ecole Centrale in Paris, and selected students will be able to spend the third year of the four-year MEng course studying at one of these institutions. Pembroke also has links with Caltech in California and, each year, one or two students can join their summer research programme.

Professional Qualifications

The MEng course is accredited by all the major Engineering Institutions as one fulfilling the academic requirements for registration as a Chartered Engineer.

Pembroke Engineering Fellows

  • Dr Gabor Csanyi – Computational Mechanics
  • Professor Vikram Deshpande – Mechanical behaviour of materials
  • Dr John Durrell – Superconductivity
  • Professor Andrea Ferrari – Nanotechnology
  • Professor Norman Fleck – Mechanics of fracture and fatigue
  • Dr Jorge Goncalves – Control and dynamical systems, system biology and hybrid systems
  • Professor Jan Maciejowski – Control and systems engineering
  • Dr Anna Young – Energy, Fluids and Turbomachinery
  • Dr Silvana Cardoso – Industrial and environmental fluid mechanics

See also the University Prospectus entry for Engineering.